The Supreme Court rejects an appeal from the Roundup manufacturer over cancer claims

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On Tuesday, the Supreme Court upheld a multi-million dollar verdict against the manufacturer of the popular herbicide Roundup for failing to warn against cancer risk.

The judges’ decision not to intervene paves the way for thousands of similar lawsuits against Bayer. The Biden administration had called for the court to deny the company’s request, a departure from the Trump administration’s position.

In a statement on Tuesday, the company said it disagreed with the court’s decision not to appeal and “is convinced that the comprehensive science and consistently favorable views of leading regulators around the world provide a strong basis on which to successfully defend Roundup. in court when necessary. “

The case was brought by Edwin Hardeman, who in 2015 was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He sued the company, claiming that his use of Roundup for more than two decades had caused his cancer. He said the company had failed to warn about the cancer risk associated with the active ingredient glyphosate.

“This has been a long, hard-fought journey to bring justice to Mr. Hardeman, and now thousands of other cancer victims can continue to hold Monsanto accountable for their decades of corporate misconduct,” Hardeman’s lawyers Jennifer Moore and Aimee Wagstaff said in a statement. to the herbicide’s original producer, which was acquired by Bayer in 2018.

The Norwegian Environment Agency has repeatedly concluded that glyphosate is unlikely to cause cancer in humans. California’s trademark laws are stricter. After an international research group classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans” in 2015, the state demanded a warning label for glyphosate-based pesticides. The classification led to a number of lawsuits against the manufacturer of the country’s most widely used herbicide.

An appeals court upheld a $ 25 million jury verdict and found that Hardeman’s exposure to Roundup was a “significant factor” in his cancer, and that the company had not warned about the risk.

The court rejects the Trump era’s EPA conclusion that herbicides are safe

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th District said that federal law does not preclude the company’s obligation to include a cancer warning on the label. The court said that a pesticide can be “incorrectly labeled” even if the EPA has approved the label, and that a company can comply with both federal and state labeling requirements.

The company’s lawyers urged the Supreme Court to reverse and point to previous decisions that were intended to ensure “nationwide uniformity of pesticide labeling.” California and potentially 49 other states should not be able to “marginalize” EPA’s statements that glyphosate is unlikely to cause cancer, they said.

The company noted that Hardeman stopped using Roundup in 2012, before the California brand claim.

In 2020, Bayer agreed to pay more than $ 10 billion to settle tens of thousands of potential US claims. The company said the settlement was not an admission of misconduct and noted in its statement Tuesday that it had won its last four cases involving Roundup.

In addition, the company said it is moving away from glyphosate-based lawn and garden products in the United States to alternative ingredients to “handle legal risk in the United States and not for safety reasons.”

Last week, a separate ruling from the 9th Circuit ordered the EPA to reconsider its findings in 2020 that glyphosate does not pose “any unreasonable risk to humans or the environment”.

In a unanimous opinion, Judge Michelle Friedland wrote that the Trump-era findings “were not supported by substantial evidence” and did not meet the agency’s legal obligations to assess environmental impact. The statement noted that the nationwide area on which glyphosate is used is approximately three times the size of California.